FOR Spalding visitors with the stamina to climb 120 steps, amazing views across the town from the top of the tower of St Mary and St Nicholas church await this weekend.
The church and tower are open on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (from 10am to 5pm) so visitors have a rare opportunity to climb to the top of the tower and admire the vista spread around them.
The tower is open just once a year, during the flower parade weekend, because health and safety guidelines mean stewards are required at the top and bottom of the stairs. As they go up the tower, visitors will also see the church’s eight bells, rung each Sunday as well as for weddings and special occasions by a dedicated team of bell ringers.
Sue Slater is Tower Captain and her team of bell ringers range from 13-year-old Josh Doades right up to 86-year-old Ron Noon, who has been ringing since he was Josh’s age.
He was then living in Northamptonshire and learned at a church with five bells, but moved to Spalding in the early 1950s and has been ringing at the parish church ever since. Ron’s wife, Joy, learned to ring at Surfleet, finally giving up bell ringing after more than 60 years.
In the intervening years, Ron has been in charge of the tower and taught others to ring, and he has also rung bells all over the country and pulled some big ones, such as the magnificent bell at Liverpool Cathedral.
“It’s a fallacy, bell ringing is not hard work,” says Ron, of Woolram Wygate, Spalding. “It’s quite easy really. It’s about technique and it’s wonderful exercise.”
Neverthless, his teammates say Ron still sets “a very high standard” as he turns out to pull the bells that call people to worship twice each Sunday.
nEntry to St Mary & St Nicolas Church is free and tower climbers are advised to take a pair of binoculars to make the most of the views.